Holistic Management and Technology Bison Web Extra



on film so holistic management I mean the basis of it is it's a it's a decision-making framework and so it's realizing that the decisions you make not only so you know do try to think of a good way so yeah I'm at it so not so the whole that I'm involved with is the Durham ranch well inside the Durham ranch you know we've got the bison enterprise obviously but we also want to improve our range management and the wildlife we want to improve the habitat for the Wildlife and so it's realizing that the decisions I make not only defect this little hole but they keep affecting the bigger holes so you know a decision I might make on the Bison might improve or decline some some deer habitat it might make you know on the people side there's been things that we've looked at and put through the testing criteria that holistic management has and it might look really great financially but it's getting a really stressed thing is on the people side and the people side is really important to us and so we've decided not to make those the decision in that direction and you know it's okay so not only we're the durum ranch and we raise bison and that but we're also remember the right community so decisions we make how that affects the community as a whole we're very active in the bison industry John is the past bison Association national bison Association president John's dad's been a national bison association president they're still active on boards and stuff and so you know it's just recognizing that the decisions we make have that ripple effect as they go out into the larger world and and we test how you know maybe decision looks great financially but ecologically it's terrible and so kind of the new catchphrase you know does it pass the triple bottom line and things like that and so but yeah it's it's that decision-making framework now one thing that gets thrown in a lot with holistic management is is the grazing management and how we graze and so that that's different for where you're at and and how you know the animals you're using your your goals for where we're at are our goal with grazing through the growing season is that a plant only gets bitten one time before it has a chance to fully recover so for the most not for the most part unless I have to for moving purposes or the animals for some reason break out all only be through a pasture one time during the grazing growing season and then I won't be back for dyeing pastures average about 270 days of rest before they get grazed again so there's a lot of planning involved with the grazing program and so it's more intensive on some places there's other places that practice holistic management you know huge ranches in Nevada and stuff where they you know they don't have the infrastructure or and so you might be there longer but you're doing things a little bit differently to try to you know change how that grazing occurs and so yeah but the biggest thing is it's just that decision-making framework to make sure you know everything is happy because you know if you're obviously if you're not profitable the business isn't you know sustainable but if the people aren't happy the business isn't sustainable either and so they you know it I don't you know if you're declining ecologically you're not sustainable and so it addresses how you make decisions on all you know financially the people side the ecological side the community sides so yeah has been real integral in not only helping to design our new system that we talked about the handling system that we remodeled but also overseeing all the construction and that was a couple years ago and then last year he took on the design and overseeing the construction of these new feed pens that we built and I big projects I mean these have been big projects bigger than you know ones that we've done in many years here so yeah we've kept we've kept him pretty busy and focused on that sort of thing but but these are ideas that either Pat's come up with we have as a team you know and and we flesh it out as a group management owners you know the team the staff and does this make sense and why you know doesn't matter who came up with the idea and then if it looks good we run with it we do we do range monitoring so we've got 27 different transects across the ranch we modern we monitor half of them every year so they get hit every two years we've got a we've got a rate a range consultant that works with us and comes in and does our range monitoring to where we'll go in and off those transects you know we run a tape line we've got a grid that we put down at the same place and so we can monitor our species our plant species that are coming up grasses forbs brushes we monitor what our basal cover is we monitor how much bare ground we have and so we we've gotten measurable results with if what we're doing is improving or declining something and if there's areas we maybe need to hit differently or if there's areas that are getting to where we're going or there's areas that stuff might be coming up that voice like why is this happening like switchgrass you introduced itself and some pastures and it's happened in pastures it's like why is it coming up here and where did it come from and so some of this stuff is kind of like Field of Dreams if you build it we'll come I mean the seed the seed bank is in the soil and there's waiting for the right conditions to to express itself and so we're just trying to get to where the right conditions are there yeah how long have you been doing this transect in 85 I think we've got we can show you in the office we've got two notebooks of pictures I mean you third that deep that tall I mean so we all show you them in the office it's it's pretty fun to go back through things and you can see the pictures how things have improved but see them through the droughts and stuff like that so it's cool to see and it's usable in I mean in record all the data you want to but it's just data until you start to actually analyze it and use it and make decisions off of it and so we actually you know we we use it and make decisions off of it so historically we used more or less conventional grazing we sort of were seasonal grazers we would graze in the same area every summer and in the same area every winter and such calving area every year and then we got introduced to holistic management we learned about a better way to plan our grazing and utilize the resource the land base and with holistic management comes a grazing system if you will with a plan and in a format sheets that you paper you know format that you use and it's cumbersome but it's what we use for several years and then as time has gone on with better software being developed pat is really good about staying up on what's out there and he discovered a new program here recently that looks like it's kind of what we've been looking for for a long time so yeah so it's called Maya grazing but it's how we do our grazing planning that getting getting the past data put into it that's really a pretty small project compared to what we've been doing and that's that's kind of what I do I mean the grazing is my that's my big baby that I take care of and so that falls more into a day-to-day operation and right now in the wintertime you know the herd stays in one space mostly for longer periods of time than in the summer and we don't have as many irons in the fire and so I get a lot more time to sit down and crunch data through the winter I don't have crews off ranch crews that were hiring that I'm dealing with managing and and stuff like that and so yeah I get in that data entered and developed as it becomes a lot easier well it's bringing together all of our past well so we've got grading history records going back to what the mid 80s so we haven't you know right now I'm just doing baby steps I'm getting everything entered back through oh six and then I'll go another chunk of time after that but it's going to help us track our forage production to how much rainfall we're getting it's helping us you know track what we've been harvesting off off the ground and so developing that data that's a step in the okay you know we can start to correlate it better than we have been to our monitoring data with what we're seeing monitoring because it's a lot easier to look back at our history and it's going to help us maybe forecast a little bit better on how we can carry animals and this ground are we stressing this piece of ground too much and not knowing it are we not challenging this piece of ground enough to really help it reach its full potential decisions like that and so you know on a small scale we we've done that and it's been in front of us but it hasn't been as readily accessible as it but it's going to be once we get everything at her because you have a more fine-tuned yeah and it looks to be a much better predictor yeah Moe things coming based on based on the actual rainfall historic yeah we've kept our own records for many many years on on precipitation and on that data becomes a part of this program that helps predict going forward what to expect yeah I mean it's it's it's looks really cool yeah we're excited yeah parrying the to Australia is hands-down way ahead of the states in their grazing management at how I mean they're getting really scientific on an inch of rain while millimeters or centimeters of rain that they receive and how that relates to forage production and and you know they're they're ahead of us on that and so we're going to get to that point and granted our environments a little bit different but and how they how they look at moisture and stuff it just it's it's changed things I mean I I entered one year's data this spring and I'm like holy crap how did I miss that you know looking at the rainfall and how it equated to the forage production and I knew we were tending towards one direction but not as but I mean it was just like somebody flipped the light on in the darkroom glaringly obvious in front of me when I when I looked at it through the the way it processed the data so yeah pretty exciting we like to share what we've learned I mean that's one thing with the bison industry is it's not it's one big happy family for the most part and we're like everybody likes to share where they're going because we want to we're all on board with promoting number one the species but number two the landscape that the land behind it and so you know when other ranches are experiencing something that they learn through improving soil how health you know we want it to get out there so every you know rising tide raises all ships and that's how we want the industry to be how we want the landscape to be I mean shared with anybody that wants to listen on how we're improving soil health because that's you know huge for us having been in the bison business for over 50 years it there was some early competition because there was a lot less numbers then right and there was a few of those pioneers that sort of would lock horns a little bit but you know as time has gone on it's become a very open like Pat said a family more or less and then once we got introduced a holistic management that just compounded that you know desire of that we have to share our insights to share our learnings our mistakes are the things that we've overcome and so bison byeson businesses is very open that way yeah I mean so we're into very open number one the Bison business is very open and number two holistic management is very open and so it's a great combination yeah

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